Characteristics of Bristlecone Pine Tree (Pinus aristata) in the Wild

Pinus aristata
Bristlecone Pine is a long-lived pine tree species native to the United States. The tree grows naturally in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico, with isolated populations of the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona and the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon.

This tree is usually found growing at very high altitudes, ranging from 2,100-4,000 m above sea level in cold and dry subalpine climatic conditions.

The oldest known bristlecone pine tree, growing on Black Mountain in Colorado, was found to have a tree ring record of 2,435 years (and an estimated overall age of 2,480 years, according to Craig Brunstein) in 1992. However, the bristlecone pine tree rarely lives beyond 2,000 years, they are generally only 1,500 years old.

This bristlecone pine is considered one of three species known as the bristlecone pine and is sometimes named as Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine or Colorado bristlecone pine.

By far, the Pinus aristata species is the most common bristlecone pine in cultivation, where it is a small, slow-growing, and very attractive tree, suitable for gardens in cold climates. Even so, he never lived as long as in the wild, usually if kept in the yard or garden he only lived less than 100 years.


Characteristics of Bristlecone Pine Leaf

Pinus aristata Leaf
Source : Hagstrom

The leaves are needle-like, grow in five fascicles, 2-4 cm long, and bluish-green.


Characteristics of Bristlecone Pine Fruit

Pinus aristata Fruit
Source : Olsen

The fruit is cylindrical, 5-10 cm long and 3-4 cm wide, purple when light and brownish yellow when ripe. The fruit ripens in 16 months.


Characteristics of Bristlecone Pine Tree

Pinus aristata Tree
Source : Lavin

Pinus aristata is a small tree, reaching 2-6 meters high and 3-5 meters wide. The trunk diameter of mature trees varies widely, with the bark gray-brown, thin and scaly at the base of the trunk.

It is a long-lived tree, although not as long as the Pine tree longaeva. It grows well in uplands of more than 2,500 m above sea level and with cool temperatures and full sun all day long.


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